Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why Catholics Can't Be Masons

There's a nice article on this subject in Our Sunday Visitor here. Here's an excerpt from the article:

The Craft

Freemasons pretend to preserve ancient secrets handed down from the builders of Solomon's Temple and pagan mystery cults via the medieval Knights Templar. Some have even tried to claim Adam, Noah and St. John the Evangelist as Brother Masons. They offer "light" unobtainable elsewhere that will perfect the initiate and improve society. Their foremost modern commentator, Henry Wilson Coil, describes Freemasonry as "a system of morality and social ethics, a primitive religion and a philosophy of life."

But the real origins of the Craft - as Masonic historians now admit - lie in Renaissance esotericism, injected into the guild traditions that had been developed by medieval stoneworkers. Inspired by interest in the symbolic possibilities of architecture, "nonoperatives"(men who weren't actually stonemasons by profession) began to enter workmen's lodges in Scotland around 1600. The lodges themselves had just been turned into permanent organizations by the king's chief builder, a Catholic named William Schaw.

Lodges of "nonoperative" or "speculative" Freemasons appeared in England by the 1640s, attracting gentry and intellectuals of varying religions to the Craft. In 1717, four London lodges united as the Grand Lodge of England, which issued constitutions in 1723 and became the "Mother Lodge" of all "regular" Masons. Spreading throughout the world, the Craft reached the European continent by 1721 and America by 1730.....

Church and the Lodge

No pope has ever been a Mason. The Catholic Church has warily monitored Freemasonry from the time it penetrated Europe. In 1738, Pope Clement XII condemned the Craft for its dependence on mere natural virtue while ignoring Christ's unique role as Savior. He also denounced the rash oaths it demanded of members to protect trivial Lodge secrets.

Catholics who joined the Masons were excommunicated, with reconciliation reserved to the pope. This decree had little effect, however, because it wasn't published in every land, nor was it always taken seriously where it was published. Eight subsequent popes would have to repeat the message, most forcefully Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Humanum Genus (On Freemasonry).

Denouncing the Lodge as "a deceitful and crafty enemy," Pope Leo declared, "Let no man think that he may for any reason whatsoever join the Masonic sect, if he values his Catholic name and his eternal salvation as he ought to value them." The 1917 Code of Canon Law included these stern prohibitions.

After the Second Vatican Council, however, the long hostility between Lodge and Church seemed to be easing. A reinterpretation of the anti-Masonic canons in 1974 led some Catholics to think that only Masonic groups actively plotting against the Church were forbidden to them.

Even so, some Freemasons had actually been plotting against the Vatican through its bank. In 1981, two of the pope's top financial advisers - known all along as Masons - were unmasked as members of a secret Lodge called Propaganda Due that was plotting a fascist takeover of Italy. Both men later died mysteriously. The Vaticanlost $240,000 with the collapse of its bank.

Changing views

Rome's softer view of Masonry was abruptly reversed in 1981 just before the financial scandal broke. Although the current Code of Canon Law issued in 1983 fails to mention the Craft by name, in the same year the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith firmly reiterated the original ban:

"The Church's negative position on Masonic associations therefore remains unaltered since their principles have always been regarded as irreconcilable with the Church's doctrine."

U.S. bishops reported the same conclusion in 1985: One cannot be both a Catholic and a Freemason.

A number of Christians from other traditions agree in their condemnation of Freemasonry, including many Lutherans, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Baptists and Orthodox believers of the Holy Synod of Greece. Even the Mormons, whose rituals show Masonic influence, condemn the Craft.

In truth, the Church and Lodge can never be reconciled. Freemasonry teaches a rival religion of naturalism, regardless of whether it plots, persecutes, blasphemes, engages in philanthropy or behaves politely.

Though professing to tolerate all religions as equal, Masonry claims to offer wisdom superior to any of them. It promises a gnostic brand of salvation through secret knowledge guarded by blood-curdling oaths. Its Great Architect of the universe is not our Triune Christian God.

You can read the whole thing here. If you are a Catholic male and looking for a fraternal organization, then consider joining the Knights of Columbus.

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